Washington: Despite the US government`s
skepticism of Hamid Karzai`s leadership, a majority of Afghans
feel their embattled president is doing an "excellent" or
"good" job, a new poll says.
More than 6 in 10 respondents feel Karzai is doing an
"excellent" or "good" job, the poll conducted by The
Washington Post, ABC News, the British Broadcasting Corp. and
ARD television of Germany says.
59 per cent of Afghans said they believe their
country is headed in the right direction, a drop of 11
percentage points from a year ago, the poll conducted in all
of Afghanistan`s 34 provinces says.
Residents of two key southern provinces, Helmand and
Kandahar, that have been the focus of US military operations
over the past year say aspects of their security and living
conditions have improved significantly since last December.
Nationwide, more than half of Afghans interviewed said
US and NATO forces should begin to leave the country in mid-
2011 or earlier. More Afghans than a year ago see the United
States as playing a negative role in Afghanistan, and support
for President Barack Obama`s troop surge has faded, the
Washington Post reported.
A year ago, 61 per cent of Afghans supported the
deployment of 30,000 additional US troops. In the new poll, 49
per cent support the move, with 49 per cent opposed.
After a big drop last year, more than a quarter of
Afghans again say attacks against US and other foreign
military forces are justifiable.
In the past, Karzai has suggested the US should focus
more intently on rooting out Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan,
and shift its emphasis in Afghanistan to development work.
Overall, nearly three-quarters of Afghans now believe
their government should pursue negotiations with the Taliban,
with almost two-thirds willing to accept a deal allowing
Taliban leaders to hold political office. Nearly a third of
adults see the Taliban as more moderate today than they were
when they ruled the country.
Meanwhile, support for the Taliban has jumped in
Kandahar, where 45 per cent now hold favorable views of the
group. The same 45 per cent of Kandahar residents see the
Taliban as having a strong presence in their area.
But nationwide support for the Taliban remains tepid.
Afghans overwhelmingly prefer the current government over the
Taliban, and almost three in four continue to say it was good
that the US military toppled the Taliban in 2001, although
that number is nine points lower than it was a year ago.